Whether you are taking a web, video, or teleconference course, studying at a distance presents its own unique challenges. However, the same studying and learning habits that allow for success in a live classroom situation apply to distance situations. These include study environment, time management skills, participation, active learning, and available resources.
Create an effective study environment and schedule
The study and learning environment is extremely important in assuring effective learning. The lack of a formal campus can mean that the distance learner must compensate by actively replicating the conditions of the learning institution in their own home. Start by finding a comfortable area free of clutter and distractions, and dedicate this space to study. This way, an area will be associated only with learning, allowing the student to ‘lock-in’ as soon as they enter.
Make a schedule and stick to it! Incorporate time for work, errands, kids, relaxation, fun, and leave some room for potential disasters (they happen to everybody).
Secure your resources
Sign up for a UNBC online tutoring account. Test the system after signing up to ensure that there are no issues.
Ensure that you have access to the UNBC Library on campus and in the regions. Ensure that you understand how to use the library catalogue and indexes in advance of needing them. Reference librarians in Prince George and distance librarians are extremely helpful for research projects, especially for finding sources and improving your searching skills. The Library maintains a comprehensive research guide for library research to help students find resources.
Your professor might not be the best person to ask about technology-related questions (e.g., UNBC computer account, Moodle), so be sure to familiarize yourself with the IT Service Desk.
Be sure to email your instructor, TA, or fellow classmates for help if you are unsure of anything, technical or content-related. Be aware of the potential delays in response time.
Participate and be an active learner
Be sure you understand the requirements of the course, including due dates, assignments, quizzes, participation, etc., and what special requirements you as a distance student are expected to complete. How are assignments to be handed in? What format does your professor want you to send attachments in?
Try to participate as much as possible, even if there isn’t a formally graded participation component. Participation helps to keep learning active, which is essential to success in a distance situation. Ask questions, think of examples, do sample quizzes from your textbook, discuss paper ideas with your professor or TA, etc.
Fight isolation and maintain enthusiasm
A student at a formal campus has the advantage of being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other students with a similar mentality. They can discuss their goals as well as their frustrations with other students, or at least know that they are all in the same boat. The distance learner may lack this environment, and as such must always be mindful of their goals and intentions. Remind yourself why you are taking a course, and what you hope to gain out of it.
Make friends with another distance student, and form a study group or simply go out for coffee to discuss your course. These interactions help to maintain enthusiasm and interest in the class.